A few weeks ago I finished reading Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe by J. Richard Gott III and the most interesting chapter had little to do with time travel. Gott figured out a way to predict how long something will last and all you have to know is how long it has been around so far. The prediction is based on the Copernican Priniciple –
In the 16th century, Nicolaus Copernicus pointed out that the Earth revolved about the Sun, rather than vice versa, and in one swift move, displaced humanity from its privileged place at the centre of the Universe. We now see the Earth as circling an unexceptional star among thousands of millions of others in our unexceptional Galaxy. This perspective is summed up more generally in the “Copernican Principle”, which is the position that one’s location is unlikely to be special.
The likelyhood of us being unspecial can help us predict how long some things will last. The duration ranges are huge (he said the space program would last between 10 months and 1248 years), but it’s great for estimating extremely unknown durations like how long humans will be around (he guesses between 5,100 years and 7.8 million years).
If you’re confused you can read more about it.
To test this guy’s theory out, I’m going to do an experiment with the lifespans of celebrities. I tried my best to randomly pick 50 actors and actresses and based on Gott’s calculations, one of them should die before their expected time. This is a reverse application of the formula, but it should work. Read on for the list.We know, thanks to Copernicus, that today is probably an unspecial day in my life and the lives of the celebrities listed below. In fact, we can say this is an unspecial day for 98% of the people below if we define “special” as the last 2% of someone’s lifespan. That leaves one person (1/50) who is living in a special time – the end of their life. Honestly, I picked these at random and I don’t know of any health conditions or problems they might have, other than cowbell fever.
Once a person lives past the value in his or her “days” column, they’ll have made it through the experiment even if they drop dead the next day.
The oldest person on the list is John Cleese, who must live for another 473 days to survive the experiment. That will be September 27, 2004.
Thora Birch is the youngest out of the group and will survive the experiment after 158 days. That day will be November 17, 2003.
|Name||Percentage||Start Date||Days||End Date|
|Sarah Michelle Geller||98.00%||06/12/03||194||12/23/03|
|All Above Have Passed|